Songs and mass celebrate popular George’s century

George Emmerson's 100th birthday - front from left, Mary Marron; 100-year-old George Emmerson; Lesley Forester; 4-year-old Molly Jenkins; Moya Burns.  Back from left, organist, Helen Mason (B.G.N.); Linda Kimber; Dawn Gentry; Fr. Bill Wilton.
George Emmerson's 100th birthday - front from left, Mary Marron; 100-year-old George Emmerson; Lesley Forester; 4-year-old Molly Jenkins; Moya Burns. Back from left, organist, Helen Mason (B.G.N.); Linda Kimber; Dawn Gentry; Fr. Bill Wilton.

A catholic church in Banbury has been the centre of celebrations for the 100th birthday of popular parishioner George Emmerson.

A celebration mass was held at St Joseph’s RC Church where George led in song inside the adjoining parish hall before assembled friends, well-wishers, fellow parishioners, as well as relations, some of whom had travelled from Virginia, USA for the occasion.

George’s musical repertoire comprised mostly of traditional cockney songs, and included hearty renditions of such favourites as Doing the Lambeth Walk and also several verses of I’m forever Blowing Bubbles in honour of West Ham United FC, who he has supported all his life.

He read his 100th birthday message from Her Majesty the Queen, as well as other messages of best wishes, before cutting his delicious 100th birthday cake.

George was born in late September 1915 as the third of five children, on Marlborough Road, Forest Gate, London, where he attended church and school.

One of his earliest recollections was during World War One, when he was woken by his mother Ellen to witness the violent demise in the sky a German Zeppelin.

George’s father, Albert Emmerson, served as a sailor in the British Navy, and subsequently worked for the Admiralty at Cricklewood as a civilian clerk.

From a young age George was an accomplished writer and portrait painter – with the latter talent providing him a ready income after leaving school, especially for his portraits of well-known film stars. George later became a civil servant for the Government’s Inland Revenue Department, at Dagenham.

During the early 1940s, George married his late wife Gladys and they had three children, Michael, Madeleine and John. Sadly, John died when he was less than a week old. George now has four grandchildren and the same number of great-grandchildren.

A decade ago, and in his early 90s, devout Catholic George moved to Middleton Cheney and ever since then has been a regular in the congregation at Sunday Mass at St Joseph’s Church.